Saturday, March 26, 2016

Poetry about Folklore

BY francine sterle

The first time
      I went to the tree
             was to knock on wood.

No one answered.
      The second time I knocked, 
             the tree, wild in the wind,

leaned toward me.
      No bad luck arrived.
             I went back and knocked again

to tell the tree
       my good fortune
              was not forgotten.

Chiseling a nest hole
       in dead wood,
              a woodpecker drills a downed log.

The rapid blows of its beak
      hammer me awake
             each night for a week.

Beneath the bark
       nymphs live
              like hidden charms

people leave
        in drawers or cupboards
               for protection.

I believe in tree spirits
       who embed their souls
              in this wood.

They are not immortal

but their lives, 
       says Hesiod,
               are ten times

that of the phoenix,
       who outlives nine
              ravens, who outlive

three glorious stags,
       who outlive four
              crows, who outlive

nine generations of aged men.

Beyond the shelter-
       belts of farmsteads,
               found deep

in poplar woods
       and birch thickets,
             a flicker assaults a tree

as nymphs
       retreat into the tunneled
              ruts of the trunk.

The bird chips away
       without distraction.
              Its showy

red patch,
       a splash of blood,
                catches my eye.

       wing buds
                of an immature insect

are like the rising
       nipples of a
               young girl.

The temptation
      to slide a finger
             over the small mounds...

Fly away!

The nymphs are free,
       changed forever
               as they brush

the pond's scalloped edge.
      What part of me they take away
            will settle some day.

Deep in dying wood.
         I will be there
               when you knock.

REFLECTIVE MUSIC: The Enchanted Nymph by Misha Levitzki

The Mermaids
BY marianne boruch

The spell is a mouth’s
perilous-o as they dark circle the boats in
their most resplendent pliable armor.

The concept fish aligning with girl
or love with death
to bring down men at sea, temptation

confused into offering,
the mismatch of like plus unlike
really likes, straight to rock bottom.

No equation has ever been this badass.
It’s the men who will enter the spell
so far into exhaustion as weather, as waves,

the tide pulling toward if, letting go then
over the whale road in the company of
the dolphin, the only other animal, I’m told,

who can do it solely for pleasure. It.
You know what I mean. The lower half
aglitter, the top half brainy as beautiful

is sometimes, murderous lovelies, their plotting
and resolve and why not
get these guys good, the lechers.

To see at all in the whirling, to hear
what anyone might
in wind roar and faint whistle

don’t worry about girls shrewd
as whimsy, legend-tough
to the core. Don’t. But it’s

their spell too, isn’t it? Locked there.
Aligned with singing, dazzle
razor-blackened green. Not that they

miss what human is like or know any end
to waters half born to, from where
they look up.

Men in boats, so sick of the journey.
Men gone stupid with blue,
with vast, with gazing over and away

the whole time until same to same-old to
now they’re mean. After that, small.
Out there, the expanse. In here,

the expanse. The men look down. Aching
lure that hides its hook steely sweet

to o my god, little fool’s breath
triumphant, all the way under and am I
not deserving?

REFLECTIVE MUSIC: The Mermaid by Alexander Zemlinsky

Mal Agueros

BY nick carbo

If you come to Mojacar
and peel open an orange full of worms,
count how many there are because
those are the days it will take for your body
to decompose after you are buried.

If you come to Mojacar
and find a small green snake with its back
broken, don't step on it or you'll cause
an earthquake that will catch up to you
while you sleep in a continent far, far away.

If you come to Mojacar
and two brown long-legged spiders crawl
on your face and shoulders, keep a sharp eye
out for two individuals, a mother-son, or
sister-sister who will try to take your money.

If you come to Mojacar
and see a scorpion scurry by your feet,
note the direction it ran to, north, south,
east, or west. You must avoid going there
or risk the sting of losing a loved one.

If you come to Mojacar
and a cock crows ten times at three
in the morning, lock your door and all
the wooden windows because nightmares in silver
dresses will arrive to slip into your bed. 

REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Musica callada by Federico Mompou

Fabergé's Egg
BY elizabeth spires

Switzerland, 1920
Dear Friend, “Called away” from my country,   
I square the egg and put it in a letter   
that all may read, gilding each word a little   
so that touched, it yields to a secret   
stirring, a small gold bird on a spring   
suddenly appearing to sing a small song   
of regret, elation, that overspills all private   
bounds, although you ask, as I do, what now   
do we sing to, sing for? Before the Great War,
I made a diamond-studded coach three inches high   
with rock crystal windows and platinum wheels
to ceremoniously convey a speechless egg to Court.   
All for a bored Czarina! My version of history   
fantastic and revolutionary as I reduced the scale   
to the hand-held dimensions of a fairy tale,   
hiding tiny Imperial portraits and cameos   
in eggs of pearl and bone. Little bonbons, caskets!   
The old riddle of the chicken and the egg   
is answered thus: in the Belle Epoque   
of the imagination, the egg came first, containing,
as it does, both history and uncertainty, my excesses   
inducing unrest among those too hungry to see   
the bitter joke of an egg one cannot eat.   
Oblique oddity, an egg is the most beautiful of all   
beautiful forms, a box without corners   
in which anything can be contained, anything   
except Time, that old jeweler who laughed   
when he set me ticking. Here, among the clocks   
and watches of a country precisely ordered   
and dying, I am not sorry, I do not apologize.
Three times I kiss you in memory
of that first Easter, that first white rising,
and send this message as if it could save you:   
Even the present is dead. We must live now   
in the future. Yours, Fabergé.

REFLECTIVE MUSIC: (not available)

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Into the Woods

Not Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening
BY jennifer michael hecht

Promises to keep was a lie, he had nothing. Through 
the woods. Over the river and into the pain. It is an addict's
talk of quitting as she's smacking at a vein. He was always
going into the woods. It was he who wrote, The best way

out is always through. You'd think a shrink, but no, a poet.
He saw the woods and knew. The forest is the one that holds
promises. The woods are lovely, dark, and deep, they fill 
with a quiet snow. Miles are traveled as we sleep. He steers

his horse off the road. Among the trees now, the blizzard 
is a dusting. Holes in the canopy make columns of snowstorm, 
lit from above. His little horse thinks it is queer. They go
deeper, sky gets darker. It's the darkest night of the year.


He had no promises to keep, nothing pending. Had no bed
to head to, measurably away in miles. He was a freak like me,
monster of the dawn. Whose woods these are I think I know,
his house is in the village though. In the middle of life

he found himself lost in a dark woods. I discovered myself
in a somber forest. In between my breasts and breaths I got
lost. The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I've got promises
to keep, smiles to go before I leap. I'm going into the woods.

They're lovely dark, and deep, which is what I want, deep lovely 
darkness. No one has asked, let alone taken, a promise of me,
no one will notice if I choose bed or rug, couch or forest deep. 
It doesn't matter where I sleep. It doesn't matter where I sleep.

REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Sonata No. 1 for Violin & Piano by Sergei Prokofiev

Joy in the Woods
BY claude mckay

There is joy in the woods just now,
       The leaves are whispers of song,
And the birds make mirth on the bough
       And music the whole day long,
And God! to dwell in the town
       In these springlike summer days,
On my brow an unfading frown
       And hate in my heart always—

A machine out of gear, aye, tired,
Yet forced to go on—for I’m hired.

Just forced to go on through fear,
       For every day I must eat
And find ugly clothes to wear,
       And bad shoes to hurt my feet
And a shelter for work-drugged sleep!
       A mere drudge! but what can one do?
A man that’s a man cannot weep!
       Suicide? A quitter? Oh, no!

But a slave should never grow tired,
Whom the masters have kindly hired.

But oh! for the woods, the flowers
       Of natural, sweet perfume,
The heartening, summer showers
       And the smiling shrubs in bloom,
Dust-free, dew-tinted at morn,
       The fresh and life-giving air,
The billowing waves of corn
       And the birds’ notes rich and clear:—

For a man-machine toil-tired
May crave beauty too—though he’s hired.

REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Forest Scenes by Robert Schumann

The Difficulty with a Tree
BY russell edison

A woman was fighting a tree. The tree had come to rage at the woman’s attack, breaking free from its earth it waddled at her with its great root feet. 
         Goddamn these sentiencies, roared the tree with birds shrieking in its branches. 
         Look out, you’ll fall on me, you bastard, screamed the woman as she hit at the tree. 
         The tree whisked and whisked with its leafy branches. 
         The woman kicked and bit screaming, kill me kill me or I’ll kill you! 

         Her husband seeing the commotion came running crying, what tree has lost patience? 
         The ax the ax, damnfool, the ax, she screamed. 
         Oh no, roared the tree dragging its long roots rhythmically limping like a sea lion towards her husband. 
         But oughtn’t we to talk about this? cried her husband. 
         But oughtn’t we to talk about this, mimicked his wife. 
         But what is this all about? he cried. 
         When you see me killing something you should reason that it will want to kill me back, she screamed. 

         But before her husband could decide what next action to perform the tree had killed both the wife and her husband. 
         Before the woman died she screamed, now do you see? 
         He said, what...? And then he died.

REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Music from "Spartacus" by Alex North

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
BY robert frost

Whose woods these are I think I know.   
His house is in the village though;   
He will not see me stopping here   
To watch his woods fill up with snow.   

My little horse must think it queer   
To stop without a farmhouse near   
Between the woods and frozen lake   
The darkest evening of the year.   

He gives his harness bells a shake   
To ask if there is some mistake.   
The only other sound’s the sweep   
Of easy wind and downy flake.   

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,   
But I have promises to keep,   
And miles to go before I sleep,   
And miles to go before I sleep.

REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Footprints in the Snow by Claude Debussy

Song: “Under the greenwood tree”

BY william shakespeare
(from As You Like It)
Under the greenwood tree
Who loves to lie with me,
And turn his merry note
Unto the sweet bird's throat,
Come hither, come hither, come hither:
            Here shall he see
            No enemy
But winter and rough weather.

Who doth ambition shun
And loves to live i' the sun,
Seeking the food he eats,
And pleased with what he gets,
Come hither, come hither, come hither:
            Here shall he see
            No enemy
But winter and rough weather.

REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Under the Greenwood Tree by Roger Quilter